Par­lia­ment may re­turn

Seymour Telegraph - - NEWS - By Gus McCub­bing

The re­gional par­lia­ment pro­gram, which would re­turn un­der an elected Lib­eral Na­tion­als gov­ern­ment, of­fers coun­try Vic­to­ri­ans a valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence, ac­cord­ing to Mem­ber for Euroa Steph Ryan.

The com­mit­ment, an­nounced by Op­po­si­tion Leader Matthew Guy last week, would see Mil­dura, Shep­par­ton, War­rnam­bool and the La­trobe Val­ley host par­lia­men­tar­i­ans from one cham­ber of Par­lia­ment — ei­ther the Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly or Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil — for one sit­ting week each.

Ms Ryan said it was dis­ap­point­ing the cur­rent state par­lia­ment hasn’t been taken to re­gional Vic­to­ria.

‘‘To me it re­flects a gov­ern­ment whose pri­or­i­ties are very fo­cused in the city, and not in coun­try Vic­to­ria,’’ she said.

‘‘The op­por­tu­nity for coun­try Vic­to­ri­ans to see how par­lia­ment works is very valu­able to our com­mu­ni­ties . . . and hav­ing it lo­cated in Shep­par­ton will be a great op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple from our re­gion to go see how it works on a day-to-day ba­sis.’’

Mem­ber for North­ern Vic­to­ria Ja­clyn Symes said La­bor cre­ated the re­gional as­sem­blies to give lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties en­hanced ac­cess to Gov­ern­ment and its de­ci­sion mak­ing process. ‘‘Sey­mour hosted a re­gional assem­bly gath­er­ing late last year, with sev­eral Gov­ern­ment min­is­ters at ta­bles talk­ing di­rect to com­mu­nity mem­bers,’’ she said.

‘‘Par­lia­men­tary pro­cesses aren’t par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ac­tive, it’s not as though we have ques­tions from the floor…. county com­mu­ni­ties would be spec­ta­tors, much the same as live stream­ing - which you can do now.

‘‘The Op­po­si­tion have failed to re­lease the mas­sive cost of bring­ing MPs, staff, clerks, at­ten­dants, Hansard, tech­ni­cal sup­port to coun­try towns, se­cu­rity to coun­try Vic­to­ria - I know I’d rather see such money spent on schools, hos­pi­tals, emer­gency ser­vices and cre­at­ing jobs in our coun­try towns.’’

Sey­mour-based Mem­ber for North­ern Vic­to­ria Daniel Young said he wel­comed the pos­si­bil­ity of the State Par­lia­ment hold­ing re­gional sit­tings.

‘‘There is a real dis­con­nect be­tween the city-cen­tric Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment and re­gional con­stituents,’’ he said.

‘‘This would be a per­fect op­por­tu­nity for Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment to meet res­i­dents in re­gional and ru­ral Vic­to­ria and see first-hand the is­sues fac­ing them.’’

‘‘Af­ter be­ing re­turned to op­po­si­tion in 2014, the Na­tion­als are feel­ing the heat and are now try­ing to play favourite in places like Shep­par­ton, Mil­dura and the La­trobe Val­ley — places the Shoot­ers, Fish­ers and Farm­ers Party will tar­get in Novem­ber.’’

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